Opinion: SLHS good enough for elementary students, renovating current sites worthwhile

Dear Editor,

Much has already been written about the proposed new High School to be built on the border between Grimsby and Beamsville.

As a former student of GDSS and retired teacher of BDSS I would like to make a few additional comments.

The present Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that the virus is spread from person to person. It is for this reason we must practice social distancing.

The pandemic has shown us that the most severe outbreaks occur in areas of high density populations such as Toronto, Peel, Montreal…..etc.

We are told to avoid large gatherings at all costs.

Yet, the NDSB proposes a facility that will house some 1500 young people plus numerous staff.

If we are learning anything from the present pandemic, would it not be wiser to spread this large student population over the three areas of Smithville, Beamsville and Grimsby?

The DSBN states the existing three highschools are too old and require extensive renovations. It budgeted $42.5 million for the new building, $8.7 for site preparation which, in the meantime, has ballooned to $17 and if a theatre will be added, another $6.8 million.

Add it all up and we reach a grand total of $66.3 million.

Being quite familiar with the existing three schools, I am certain if only a third of this amount were spent on their renovations, they would serve us well for many more years to come.

The Smithville High School was closed a couple of years ago.

Yet, today it is used as an elementary school. Not good enough for students from Grade 9-12, but good enough for those from Grade 1-8?

A highschool is often the heart of a community. Most people will form an emotional attachment and, as they age, will look back on their highschool days with a sense of pride and nostalgia.

They will always connect their highschool to the town in which it was located. They will always respond to the question, “Where did you attend High School?” with the answer, “Beamsville, Grimsby, or Smithville.”

How will they respond when they graduate from a school located halfway between Beamsville and Grimsby, and several kilometers removed from Smithville?

One more thing! We want a theatre in the new school! Great idea! I, too, want a theatre, but in the new school?? I have heard rumours that when the Beamsville school closes, the Town of Lincoln may perhaps purchase the property.

If that should happen why not establish a theatre there?

Depending on how the Town renovates the building, there are at least three choices. The simplest, easiest, and most cost effective would be to use the Team Teaching Room in Wing two.

It would be perfect for a small, intimate theatre. The other two choices would be either the gymnasium in wing one or the one in wing two, either of which would require many more renovations!

We often accuse those in authority of not planning for the future. Lincoln Council, I know many of you are graduates of our beloved BDSS! Here is your chance to plan for a future in which a theatre could play an important role in our community!

John van der Beek

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